Blog : Cross Roads house goes for solar seconds
Being the largest transitional housing complex in the region, the folks at Cross Roads House in Portsmouth know a thing or two about loyalty and trust.
Which is why it came as no surprise when – needing a second solar hot water system to help meet growing demand from residents – the powers that be put in a call to a familiar face.
Having installed Cross Roads’ first solar hot water system – a 16-panel, 900-gallon tank unit – back in 2009, Jack Bingham, owner of SEA Solar Store, was all too pleased to comply.
While smaller in scope, the new six-panel, 100-gallon system will provide solar-heated water to four shower units and a community kitchen located in the newly constructed family wing of the complex.
Taken together, the two installments form one of the city’s largest solar hot water systems. But as far as points of pride are concerned, size and scope are by no means at the top of Jack Bingham’s list.
“What’s truly special about this project is that it’s providing clean energy and water to such an important part of the community,” said Bingham of the two-part installation. “I was thrilled when Cross Roads wanted to do a second installation, because I believe in what they’re doing.”
How does a solar hot water system work? While the technology is no doubt complex, the principles are fairly simple in scope: Harnessed sunlight heats copper coils inside the storage tank, which in turn heats the water.
So instead of sending water into the furnace at 50 or so degrees, the system delivers water over 100 degrees. That means less work for the furnace, lower energy bills and – last but not least – a drastically reduced carbon footprint.
By 2009, Cross Roads realized that their original building simply couldn’t bear the burden of the number of residents, which can often approach100 a night. Obviously, showers are often one of the most in-demand amenities.
“You have people waking up before the crack of dawn so that there’s enough hot water for the people who get up later,” Bingham noted. “A lot of the residents need to get ready for job interviews and such, so it’s extremely important that the hot water source be a reliable one.”
Because the system works to pre-heat the water before it reaches the showerhead, Cross Roads can continue providing hot water, while minding their wallet at the same time.
“I would say one of the biggest testaments to the system’s success is that our residents haven’t noticed a difference,” notes Chris Sterndale, Executive Director for Cross Roads House.
When asked why Cross Roads chose to install a solar hot water system, Sterndale admits that minding the bottom line “is always a challenge for us. We go through quite a lot of hot water and this solution is the most cost-effective and meets our needs.”
So far, Bingham and SEA’s system has been a success on both fronts.
“In the long run, our goal is to save money,” says Sterndale. “It’s an investment that will eventually pay for itself.”